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  1. #41
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    What I dislike about the book is it has little to do with hiking. He spends a good 2/3 of the book complaining about the NPS specifically and the federal government in general.
    Pain is a by-product of a good time.

  2. #42
    Registered User Nutbrown's Avatar
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    I enjoyed that book, then read the one where he travels around the US looking for small town America. I've not read another. He came across as a pompous Brit (which is what I think he really wants to be) that thought all small towners were simple minded and fat.

    Whether he had a trail name or not is just an interesting curiosity.

  3. #43
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    Before I attemped to thru-hike in 2000 I went to a book signing Bill Bryson was doing on a book he had just wrote about Austraila. After he spoke about his new book folks got in line to meet Bill and have him sign their book. I got in line and when I got to the table where he was signing books I asked him to sign my copu of Walk In The Woods and that I was leaving in two days to go to Springer to start a thru. He told me how much he enjoyed the AT and some of the great folks that he met. He also said that he hoped to finish the trail some day. He asked me what my trail name was going to be so that he could write it to when he signed. I asked him what his trail name was and he said that it was "Bryson".
    Grampie-N->2001

  4. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grampa View Post
    Before I attempted to thru-hike in 2000 I went to a book signing Bill Bryson was doing on a book he had just wrote about Australia. After he spoke about his new book folks got in line to meet Bill and have him sign their book. I got in line and when I got to the table where he was signing books I asked him to sign my copy of Walk In The Woods and that I was leaving in two days to go to Springer to start a thru. He told me how much he enjoyed the AT and some of the great folks that he met. He also said that he hoped to finish the trail some day. He asked me what my trail name was going to be so that he could write it to when he signed. I asked him what his trail name was and he said that it was "Bryson".
    Well that makes sense,that's what Kat calls him,throughout!

  5. #45
    Registered User Driver8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredmugs View Post
    What I dislike about the book is it has little to do with hiking. He spends a good 2/3 of the book complaining about the NPS specifically and the federal government in general.
    So he wrote the book he wanted to, but it wasn't the one you wanted him to. Ain't that always the way?
    The more miles, the merrier!

    NH4K: 21/48; N.E.4K: 25/67; NEHH: 28/100; Northeast 4K: 27/115; AT: 124/2191

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredmugs View Post
    What I dislike about the book is it has little to do with hiking. He spends a good 2/3 of the book complaining about the NPS specifically and the federal government in general.

    Because the book isn't about hiking. It's about his experience of the AT. Huge difference.

    If he wrote about hiking, it would just be another journal.

  7. #47
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bessiebreeze View Post
    Evidently he didn't have one, for it is never mentioned in his book. This has always made me wonder if he really ever hiked very much if any of the AT, because trail names are a big part of the hike. I still think that most if not all of that book is fiction, and should be classified as such.

    Bessie breeze
    Bill Bryson didn't like the hikers he wrote about, which makes me think he never really communicated with other hikers. It's my guess he had, at best, only a faint awareness of the trail name phenomenon, if that. Bill missed what most of us considered to be one of the more interesting parts of the trail -- the hiking community.

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by weary View Post
    Bill Bryson didn't like the hikers he wrote about, which makes me think he never really communicated with other hikers. It's my guess he had, at best, only a faint awareness of the trail name phenomenon, if that. Bill missed what most of us considered to be one of the more interesting parts of the trail -- the hiking community.
    bryson and i are a lot alike

  9. #49
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    I love Bryson's book. There's no question he did a lot of homework about the Appalachian Trail and his writing style is both factual and funny. Yea, he probably added some fiction like Katz's adventures in Waynesboro. And yea, he did make Katz out to be a weak hiker although Bryson also was very grateful for Katz coming, as he noted, Katz didn't have to be there.

  10. #50
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    I always find amusing all the vitriol many thru-hikers spew at Bryson. I found the book extremely funny and entertaining. If I get a chance to do a thru-hike when I retire, do I have to do a 180 and hate the book?

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffmeh View Post
    I always find amusing all the vitriol many thru-hikers spew at Bryson. I found the book extremely funny and entertaining. If I get a chance to do a thru-hike when I retire, do I have to do a 180 and hate the book?

    Yea, I honestly don't get the hate. I think people are pissed he wrote a book about hiking the AT when he didn't complete a thru-hike. But the name of the book is "A Walk In The Woods", not some title saying he hiked the entire trail. And Bryson freely admits he didn't hike the entire thing. In the first few pages of the book he even mentions he's only doing 6 weeks for the 1st section. Considering that took up 2/3 of the book, you had to know he wasn't going to finish once you got to page 50 or so.

    The obvious thing people are missing is that it's not a book for thru-hikers. It's a book for normal folks that like to read and wonder what it would be like to hike something like the AT.

  12. #52
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    I'm a huge fan of all Bill Bryson has written. He makes me laugh, and that's goes a long way with me.
    Everyone who has taken on the AT as subject matter approaches it in a different way. That's what keeps literature from becoming stale and boring. I have read too many place names. They mean very little until I see them for myself.
    I am a writer embarking on my own book about the AT. I will cover trail names, trail magic, trail mix, trail stories.... I won't be wasting too much ink on places beyond those I know, like Monson, Maine and Katahdin. I am also taking on a brand new AT subject: women who thru-hike...and why they do it. What's different about it for them? Not a lot has been written from a woman's point-of-view. My goal is to change that. My second home is in Monson, where I spend time frequently with my Maine Guide/neurosurgeon husband. I look forward to greeting Sobos after the 100-mile wilderness and Nobos when they get to Monson, and then Katahdin. I want to feed, transport, give access to our lakefront, comfy beds, showers, and LISTEN. Not offering money, just a little respite. I am not a thru-hiker myself but am constantly intrigued by those who step into town for a day or two. Have climbed Katahdin 3 times, backpacked parts of trail, grad of Outward Bound in Maine. Have lived 50 years thru the best and worst life has to offer. How about you? meg@megwilsonauthor.com

  13. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by weary View Post
    Bill Bryson didn't like the hikers he wrote about, which makes me think he never really communicated with other hikers. It's my guess he had, at best, only a faint awareness of the trail name phenomenon, if that. Bill missed what most of us considered to be one of the more interesting parts of the trail -- the hiking community.
    Anyone who has spent some time on the trail has meet all the characters discribed in the book. Which makes me think he did communicate with a lot of hikers and rolled thier various traits into the couple of characters he does go into some detail about.

    That's a good way to give a feel for the kind of people out there, with out having to talk about a lot of different individuals. And it makes them a lot more interesting then they would otherwise normally be.

    It's been how long since this book came out and we're still talking about it? That's one indication of a good book.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  14. #54
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredmugs View Post
    What I dislike about the book is it has little to do with hiking. He spends a good 2/3 of the book complaining about the NPS specifically and the federal government in general.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nutbrown View Post
    I enjoyed that book, then read the one where he travels around the US looking for small town America. I've not read another. He came across as a pompous Brit (which is what I think he really wants to be) that thought all small towners were simple minded and fat.

    Whether he had a trail name or not is just an interesting curiosity.
    I think you folks nailed it.... could not say that better myself... Can I use that in future?
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

  15. #55
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    It's amazing how some of you don't understand his humor. He makes fun of himself more than he does other people. In his book about Austrailia, he tells a story of how he was so fat that when he went on a boogie board to surf, he sank to the bottom of the beach.

    If you don't like this book, it's because you have different expectations of what the book is supposed to be about. But to say it's a bad book because he's pompous and looks down on people is just LOL silly.

  16. #56

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    Picking other people apart is a longtime pastime of the American public (probably every nation's public as well - those that don't have a dictator that will have you shot, at least).

    Bryson capitalizes on this in his A Walk in the Woods, and he does an excellent job showcasing the idiosyncrasies of his subjects, real or imagined. You laugh at them, then you laugh at yourself (if you're not a complete stick-in-the-mud).

    Fact or fiction, it was a fun and easy read, and he is a very good writer/comic.

    It's doubtful that he could get away with the attitude that he has as a character in his own book without getting a regular helping of knuckle sandwich.

    He's probably an ok guy, just like some of the curmudgeons here on Whiteblaze.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  17. #57
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    I am more ready than most to agree there is much about hiking which really sucks-- but it would have been nice if AWITW captured more of the joy of the Trail.

    I wish tavel writer Paul Thereoux came up with the idea before Bryson. Oh, well.

    In the end, I suspect many of us have a coworker, firend or relative who thinks they understand us and our experiences after reading the book. That's too bad, but not Brysons fault.

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by bessiebreeze View Post
    Evidently he didn't have one, for it is never mentioned in his book. This has always made me wonder if he really ever hiked very much if any of the AT, because trail names are a big part of the hike. I still think that most if not all of that book is fiction, and should be classified as such.

    Bessie breeze
    Don't disagree that he likely didn't do most of what he claims, but your "trail name" being a "big part of the hike" is nonsense.

    Trail names strike many of us as adolescent at best.

  19. #59
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    My favorite part is when he meets a SOBO thru-hiker in April in SNP. Baltimore Jack has a t-shirt I like an awful lot.

  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donde View Post
    ...Baltimore Jack has a t-shirt I like an awful lot.
    Do tell... Lots of us haven't gotten the chance to meet him yet.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

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